Monthly Archives: February 2018

Preview: City Council agenda (February 13)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 6:30pm. The agenda is here.

This week: Opiods, homelessness, human trafficking.

If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Opiods and Human Trafficking: There are a couple items on the agenda asking the Manager to step up existing efforts on fighting opiod abuse. And there are a couple items asking that the city align itself with existing efforts to fight human trafficking, such as draft legislation from the Central Mass Freedom Coalition, and to also give certain city employees some education on the issue.
  • Newton Hill Wall: Councilor Wally requests a report on the stone walls around Newton Hill.
  • Boards and Commissions: As part of her effort to deal with the lack of applicants for certain boards, Councilor Lukes would like the Manager to allow people to serve on multiple boards and commissions, within reason.
  • Encouraging Redevelopment: Councilor Russell requests that the city expedite hearings for small developments, whether for housing or for small businesses.
  • Homelessness: The Manager proposes a series of hearings this spring and summer about what we need to do to address homelessness in Worcester, with an emphasis on the “housing first” model. He notes that we have around 60 chronically homeless people known to the city, and that “chronic homelessness increased 46% from 2016-2017, and unsheltered or street homelessness increased 97%.”
  • Public and Private Streets: The Council will vote to “abandon and discontinue its use of a portion of Chino Ave and Boylston St” as there’s a building that encroaches a tiny bit on those streets.

Worcester School Committee meetings this week

Two subcommittees and a full committee meeting!
It’s not actually clear from the online postings what is going to be discussed at the subcommittee meetings; it’s just everything that has been sent to that subcommittee. That’s not best practice on agenda postings; here’s my guess from what has backups.

Monday, there’s a Finance and Operations subcommittee meeting (5pm). It looks like a lot of the items are facilities repair related (most without a backup); you can see the list of big projects done in cooperation with MSBA (costing more than $60M total since 2012)  here. In other words, the answer to “why haven’t we used bonds?” is “we have.”
Because cell phones are always with us, there is a report on that.
The one to watch, of course, is the quarterly budget update. It’s in much better shape for second quarter (free cash transfer) with a projected ending balance of -$177, 761…still negative, but better. The report is here.
Note that legal was cut by $30,000 and now is over that amount. Workers compensation continues to be over the budgeted amount (remember when there are proposed cuts during deliberations). Special education tuition is eight new students since June (and I don’t understand the last sentence in that paragraph…meaning it was more like $700K?). Translation–in two accounts–has been flagged as underfunded in the past, as well.
The good news on utilities is that the solar panels are working; the bad news is that Nelson Place is getting fewer solar panels than planned? Also, crossing guards are not an account in which one wants to see a balance! There are some account transfers on this one.

Tuesday, Teaching, Learning, and Student Supports meets at 5. There’s a response to an (old; my name is on it) item on reviewing what instruction there is on coding, for which the response is this:

There’s an item on wrestling teams and one on the reading curriculum
The amendment to the Worcester East Middle innovation school plan has no academic or instructional backup, no support from teams at the school or anything else; it just reports enrollment. As I think of all of the work that went into the innovation plan, this is pretty appalling. 
The one item that may be of most interest is the upcoming school calendars
On Thursday’s full meeting, the report of the superintendent is her goals for the year. They are: 
  • completing the new superintendents’ induction program
  • providing high quality learning opportunities and resources to all students: the benchmarks are around AP, linking to Khan Academy (!), and then by subject area
  • developing a district technology plan…perhaps they could start with the one from five years ago. This includes “scaling computer science,” redoing the website by 2018, and providing “equitable access to mobile technology.”
  • providing effective professional development with a list of professional development plans
  • continuing to analyze district data: with measurements having to do with dual enrollment, tiered support, gifted instruction, 
  • developing a positive school climate: with references to some initiatives
As a response to the frequent “advertise, advertise” itme, the district apparently is being rebranded; beware of reports having no dollar figure attached.
There’s a list of the schools that have students from Puerto Rico.
Relatedly, the $5000 came through, and Worcester is using it on a “homeless liaison.”
There is a request that the School Committee accept: 

  • $450 to the Art Department at Doherty Memorial High School in memory of Jeffrey Gustafson.
  • $300 to the Special Education Department at Grafton Street School in memory of Elisha Inferrera.
There are requests for the following:
  • Request that the Superintendent create an updated Health and Wellness Curriculum for middle and high school students. (Petty, joined by all of the committee; held from the last meeting)
  • Request that the Administration provide a report on the accountability changes made by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. (Monfredo)
  • Request that the Administration provide a progress report on the Hanover Academy at Burncoat Middle School. (McCullough)
  • To consider joining forces with the Brockton Public Schools as a plaintiff in its School Funding Lawsuit. (Comparetto)
  • Request that the Administration provide a report on changes in principal leadership and its plans to hire new principals.(Comparetto)
  • Request that the Administration provide a report on its efforts to attract a diverse pool of teachers and administrators in the Worcester Public Schools. (Comparetto)
  •  To consider a review of a publication entitled Teaching Hard History: American Slavery from the Southern Poverty Law Center.(Comparetto)
  • To support Senate Bill No. S249-An Act to involve youth in civic engagement, a new bill filed on Beacon Hill by State Senator Harriette Chandler. (Monfredo)
  • Request that the Administration provide an update on the ways in which education is provided to staff and students, in light of the opioid crisis, as a result of the passage of the recently enacted Marijuana Law. (Biancheria)

There is a 6 pm executive session for three workers’ comp cases and a grievance.

Preview: City Council agenda (February 6)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 6:30pm. [The agenda is here](http://www.worcesterma.gov/agendas-minutes/city-council/2018/20180206.htm).

This week: The usual important but routine stuff, and maybe 1 important but non-routine item to write up for this preview.

If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, [the link is here](http://eepurl.com/xyCGz).

  • Boards and Commissions: Anthony Pignataro has been appointed a Constable.